Ciaran Milner takes you on a tour of the best of Manchester’s sport
Whether you are a returning student or a fresher, the coming year promises to be an exciting one in sport. Being one of Britain’s largest cities, Manchester boasts an eclectic mix to satisfy all tastes, and the University has some top class facilities for those looking to get involved.
University of Manchester has one of the largest Athletic Unions in the country, and there are a huge number of clubs and teams available to join. Whether it’s the classic football or rugby, the outlandish ultimate frisbee or the little-known korfball, there is something to cater for all preferences. All forty three clubs will have a stall at the Sports Fair which takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Freshers’ week (18th and 19th September). It is located in the Students Union building on Oxford Road and is where to go to sign up for anything that piques your interest.
Many of these teams will compete in the prestigious Christie Cup in April. After the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry, this ‘Battle of the North’ is the oldest inter-university sporting event in the country, and sees teams from the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool compete. The cup was originally an athletics competition, but now sees over 40 sports compete in a single day of dramatic competition. Manchester had previously dominated the event, winning the title consecutively for eight years until Leeds broke tradition in 2011. The title returned to Manchester again in 2012 after a victorious campaign in Liverpool, and this year expectations of retaining the trophy will be high as the competition is to be held on home soil for the first time since 2010.
For those looking for something a little more casual to get involved in, there are the Campus Sport leagues, in which teams from within the University compete with each other. Teams can represent either university halls or academic departments, or indeed students can create their own teams with a group of friends. There are leagues for football, rugby union, basketball, netball and hockey. For more information on both Campus Sport and Athletic Union sport, go to http://www.sport.manchester.ac.uk/sport.
Manchester has plenty to offer for spectators too. Football here has taken an interesting turn with Man City ending a 44 year wait for a league title in the most dramatic style. Man United will be hoping to silence their noisy neighbours, and you can watch this saga unfold for yourself with tickets for both clubs available from our Students Union, with prices starting at £17. For those craving a weekly football fix on the cheap, a student season ticket at non-league Macclesfield starts at a mere £50, and the club is only a 30-minute train ride away. For something a little closer to home, FC United of Manchester have season tickets starting at £90, and if you’re totally penniless, the National Football Museum has just opened its doors in the city centre and is totally free to enter.
Rugby League is well represented in the region, with many of the biggest clubs calling Lancashire home. St. Helens, Warrington and 19-time champions Wigan Warriors are all close, as are newcomers Salford City Reds. The season is currently building to a dramatic close with the playoffs taking place throughout late September and early October. The most important event in the Rugby League calendar, the Grand Final, is set to take place at Old Trafford on 6th October, and tickets are available for as little as £21.
Cricket also maintains a presence in the city, with Lancashire County Cricket Club plying their trade at (the other) Old Trafford. The season begins again in early April, with tickets costing £13 for a day of action. The club have just been relegated to the second tier of County Cricket, so expect an exciting season ahead as they push for promotion. In August, the ground will play host to the third test of the 2013 Ashes Series. This is certainly one to look forward to, as a young Australian team will seek to re-assert their dominance over England in what promises to be an intriguing contest. The third test, as ever, will be key.
On the University side of things, look out for the fabled Varisty matches between the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. These highly anticipated games often create an electric atmosphere, with bragging rights for one set of Manchester students up for grabs. The first of these clashes will take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 26th September, when both the men’s and women’s Rugby Union sides collide at Sale FC’s Heywood Road ground. Tickets will be available from the Students Union, and we plan to live blog this event for those who can’t make it in person.